Catharine met Andrew while the pair shared a house with nine other young professionals in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, England. But it was not love at first sight.
“Andrew was the last of the 10 people to move in,” shares Catharine. “By this time I was really bored of the process and fed up with having to get to know new people. So I really didn’t try very hard and barely even spoke to him!” But after several nights out and a few house parties, they finally connected. They dated, trying to unsuccessfully hide their romance from the housemates, before moving to London together.
After five years, Catharine says she had pretty much given up on Andrew ever proposing. “We traveled to some amazing places, with plenty of opportunity for incredible proposals,” she says, “So when we took a totally normal trip back to Ireland in October 2018 to visit his parents, I thought nothing of it.” Andrew took her to his favorite place, Kinnagoe Bay, and popped the question with an engagement ring he designed himself.
The couple decided to get married in Catharine’s California hometown over the coming Easter holiday. With less than six months to plan, they originally agreed on a more intimate wedding. “We realized how many people wanted to celebrate our union with us,” says Catharine. “Our guest list swelled to 60 and caused a British and Irish invasion into the small town of Nevada City.”
With so many out-of-town guests, they invited everyone to a wine reception at the Nevada City Winery to help break the ice. “It took away the stress of our parents and friends meeting each other for the first time and the next day at the wedding everyone was already old friends,” shares the bride.
A warm spring day greeted the couple at The Stone House on their wedding day. The late afternoon ceremony included passages from John Muir, an Irish blessing and a sand ceremony. “Andrew collected sand from Kinnagoe Bay, and I collected sand from Santa Cruz where I went to university,” explains Catharine. “We poured our individual vessels of sand into a new bottle engraved with ‘better together.’” As a wedding gift, Catharine gave Andrew an oil painting of Kinnagoe Bay by local Irish artist Tanya McColgan.
The ceremony was followed by a big family-style dinner, full of touching speeches, laughter and dancing. One such touching speech came from the bride’s father, “My dad gave a lovely speech, which was planned. He talked, with humor, about what it was like going through all the stages of raising me. He ended with a great line, ‘As far as I can tell, Andrew and I have three things in common: Drinking, Gambling and Redheads.’ And the whole place was crying with laugher. But what wasn’t planned and ended up being a beautiful surprise was when Andrew’s dad also gave a speech! It was really special hearing his perspective on when Andrew and I started to get together and how they knew, before Andrew did, that I was the one for him.”
The groom reflects back on the evening, “The most fun was the celebrations into the night. That memory is less clear though, which might have something to do with those California IPAs.”
Catharine & Andrew's Wedding Resources
(paper cones for confetti toss)
The Tiny House Farm
(natural dried flower wedding confetti)
Farm Girl Rose Petals (for flower girl baskets)
Brides Diary (hair accessories)
A Day to Remember
(personalized goodie baskets for the kids)
Uncraftables (children's wedding activity pack)
Laser Tree (cake topper)
Giel Designs (custom ring box)
Doodle Stamp (customized address stamp)
Polkadots and More (California stickers
with cut-out heart location for invite envelopes)
California Minimoon: Napa & Sonoma County
-Bardessono in Yountville, CA
-Timbercove Resort in Jenner, CA
Honeymoon coming late 2020.
Lemon, Lavender and Blackberry –
Lavender cake with blackberry filling and lemon buttercream
• We did not choose a specific flower and had no idea what we would get. We chose Little Boy Flowers for our wedding. It’s a small farm just outside Nevada City. The flowers were picked on the farm and we got a selection of what was in bloom that week, and everything was picked a few days before our wedding. All the flowers were seasonal and beautifully unique. Actually, due to the weather just before the wedding in March and April, we were concerned we might not have any flowers! But in true California fashion, the sun came out and we have beautiful blooms. We discussed with the grower our preferences for a color palette and she curated our flowers based on that and what she had. We didn’t know what we would get until the day, but we never worried about that – have you ever seen an ugly flower?
• We chose to have the bouquets made up by Angie at Little Boy Flowers and also ordered five buckets of bulk flowers from her so that we could do our own arrangements for the floral decorations. The day before the wedding, which was the most stressful day for me, my aunt, mom, bridesmaids, and my little sister make all the flower arrangements for the whole venue and outside space. Despite being a creative person (I have a degree in it!), I was totally useless and could literally not function. Angie was able to complement the green of the bridesmaids’ dresses and the rustic décor of the venue with colors of coral, orange, white and greenery. The flower selection included: ranunculus, anemones, poppies, tulips, narcissus and greenery (including some wild branches).
• We added to the flowers with olive branches we cut from my dad’s olive grove. Two days before our wedding, Andrew had me high in the air in the bucket of my dad’s tractor cutting down olive branches to make garlands to line the aisle of our ceremony.
• Andrew’s mom said that she wanted to dip her feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, and so the morning after she landed, we walked out to a beach near the Golden Gate Bridge and she did just that! She was so happy to have touched two great oceans.
• It was important to us that our wedding was full of local suppliers. We said at the very beginning that if we were going to spend any amount of money on a wedding, we wanted the money to benefit the local community. We tried to achieve this by choosing independent retailers and suppliers, whether that be in Nevada City (where I grew up) or in Northern Ireland (where my husband grew up). This meant that we didn’t always go with the cheapest option, but it did mean that we felt that our choices fulfilled a wider purpose. Getting married in a small town also meant that we were able to choose suppliers that had so much valuable knowledge of the area, which helped immensely in our planning.
Bride: Remember to enjoy your day! Don’t forget to eat and drink and enjoy all the things that you spent so much time planning … especially the food! We spent many hours choosing the appetizers, menu choices and selecting the beer, wine and bubbles, but we hardly ate any of it.
Groom: Boring Alert! Detailed planning might not be very romantic, but it’s essential. Project plans, spreadsheet and budget trackers will contribute to an enjoyable wedding day and keep things on track in the hectic days and weeks before.
• Our wedding was over in a flash. We didn’t get married until 4pm and because we didn’t do a first look, we had quite a few photos to get done before we joined the fun. We absolutely treasure our photographs so we wouldn’t change that at all, but at the same time we wish we had more time to enjoy our cocktail hour and reception before sitting down for dinner. Once we got into dinner and speeches, the night flew past us.
• I’d start the whole day earlier so we had more time to enjoy our party!
• I wish we had booked the venue longer so that we could keep the party going and we would have extended our booze package too for drinking into the night!